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Difference Between a Coffin and a Casket: Misconceptions Debunked

Difference Between a Coffin and a Casket
People generally think that the terms coffin and casket are used for the same thing, i.e. a funerary box. There is a great confusion regarding their meanings though they are used for the same purpose. There are a few things that distinguish a coffin from a casket, primarily their shapes and designs. This WellnessKeen post discusses the comparison coffin vs. casket.
Sharmistha Sarkar
Last Updated: Apr 9, 2018
Going Green
Caskets or Coffins used for cremation are constructed from eco-friendly and biodegradable materials like banana leaves, cardboard, bamboo, bark of the willow tree, wicker, and others. Also, the glues used are natural instead of toxic. They do not include plastic fittings, metals, toxic paints, and so on.
Burial is known to be one of the oldest practices of honoring the dead. Researchers found that the Neanderthals who lived in Eurasia about 600,000 years ago, first practiced human burials. Humans were buried in graves along with personal belongings like jewelry and tools made of bones and stones. Then gradually, over time, the burial methods changed. Wooden boxes started to come in use to hold the deceased, and hence they came to be known as Coffins. Later, the wooden boxes started becoming more decorative, and were used for burial as well as display. The term Casket came into existence much later. It was used as a genteelism for the word Coffin, when Coffin was looked upon as an offensive term.

Today, the terms Casket and Coffin are used interchangeably. The word Coffin is usually used for a wooden funerary box that has six or eight sides, while Casket refers to a rectangular box that has four sides with a split lid for the purpose of viewing.
Difference Between Coffin and Casket
♦ A Coffin or a Casket is a funerary box used for keeping the remains of a dead human body.

♦ The original meaning of the term, Casket, referred to a basket that housed special items like jewelry and small valuables like documents.
♦ The word Coffin is derived from the old French word, cofin.

♦ The word Casket comes from the French word casse.
Used Since
Coffins have been used since as early as the 16th century in the western world.

♦ The word Casket came to be used for a container holding dead bodies very recently, since some time in the mid 19th century.
Coffins are designed in a way that conforms to the shape of the human body. i.e an anthropoidal shape. It is narrow at the head, significantly wide in the middle and tapering towards the legs.

♦ On the other hand, a Casket has uniformity in all its sides.
Number of Sides
♦ A Coffin is made up of six to eight sides. They are octagonal or hexagonal in shape.

♦ A Casket is made up of four sides. It is rectangular in shape.
♦ A Coffin is made up of six to eight sides. They are octagonal or hexagonal in shape.

♦ A Casket is made up of four sides. It is rectangular in shape.
♦ A Coffin is cheaper than a Casket. This is because of the kind of materials used for making it and the less workmanship needed.

♦ A Casket is more expensive than a Coffin, as they are usually made with higher quality timbers and have higher standards of craftsmanship than Coffins.
Oak coffin
Oak coffin
Coffins have a much simpler design compared to caskets. They do not have any special or decorative interiors. They are made out of different materials like solid timber, particle board with hardwood veneers, or custom wood. They are finished in a wood grain look laminate, paint or graphics. They may have a total of either four or six handles on their sides. The lids are solid and may or may not have an attachment by hinges with the container.
Wooden casket
Wooden casket
Caskets are usually adorned with accessories and artistic elements. They are usually constructed with quality wood like walnut and mahogany, cherry, maple, oak, elmwood, pecan, poplar, timber veneers or solid timber. They may also be made of copper, bronze, stainless steel, fiberglass, fiberboard, plastic, and other expensive materials.

Additionally, Caskets have metallic details and their interiors are crafted with silk, velvet, or other high-quality materials. They have pillows and mattresses integrated with the base and the lid. The interiors of the Casket lid may be embroidered. Their exterior can have handles or ornamentation. The lids of Caskets are attached with hinges to the box. Also, unlike Coffins, the lids are split into two parts for the purpose of viewing.
These are the differences between a Casket and a Coffin. If you do not want to spend much for purchasing a Casket or a Coffin, then you could go for an alternative container. In accordance with the Funeral Rule, it is not required that a Coffin or Casket should be used.